SCHWEIZER BOTSCHAFT IN BEIJING
EMBASSY OF SWITZERLAND IN BEIJING
AMBASSADE DE SUISSE EN CHINE

Der wöchentliche Presserückblick der Schweizer Botschaft in der VR China
The Weekly Press Review of the Swiss Embassy in the People's Republic of China
La revue de presse hebdomadaire de l'Ambassade de Suisse en RP de Chine
  10-14.1.11, No. 354  
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Table of contents

DPRK and South Korea

Mongolia

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Foreign Policy

Pentagon chief in China for military rapprochement (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-10
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Beijing late Sunday kicking off a 4-day visit to China that is long overdue because Obama administration's decision to sell weapons to China's Taiwan early last year shortchanged bilateral ties. The visit, just 10 days prior to Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the U.S. provides a good opportunity for the world's two powers to improve military and political relations after the frictions last year. During the visit, Hu, also chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of the commission Xi Jinping, Vice-Chairman of the commission Xu Caihou and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will meet Gates separately. His Chinese counterpart General Liang Guanglie will hold talks with him, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Mr. Gates will also visit the command of the Second Artillery Force of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the core force of China's strategic deterrence including middle and long-range ballistic nuclear missiles. [… ] Pang Zhongying, a researcher on international relations in Renmin University, told Xinhua news agency that Gates' visit will help improve and strengthen China-US military ties. "The relaunch of high-level contact between the Chinese and US militaries shows the new opportunity they are facing for the improvement of relations," Pang said. However, some analysts cautioned that some core issues standing in the way of bilateral military ties will not be solved anytime soon. The Chinese military has said the issues including U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, frequent reconnaissance by the U.S. naval ships and aircraft in the waters and airspace of China's exclusive economic zones, remain obstacles for further development of military ties. [… ] Describing the military ties as a vulnerable part of China-U.S. relations, Luo said "China-US relations would be adversely affected if military ties could not be improved." Pang stressed that the future development of the military ties lies on what actions the US would take and how sincerely and effectively it responds to China's core concerns. […] Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said last week in New York that in the upcoming Hu's visit to the U.S., the Chinese president and his U.S. counterpart President Barack Obama will map out a blueprint for China-US cooperation in a verity of fields in the new decade. Mr. Gates will leave China and visit Tokyo and Seoul late this week for his meetings focusing on the Korean Peninsula, sources said. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier meets German President to upgrade bilateral ties (Global Times)
2011-01-10
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang met with German President Christian Wulff on Friday to upgrade relations between the two countries. Li said China-Germany relations have been achieving new progress in recent years, particular last year when bilateral trade is expected to exceed 140 billion US dollars, about one third of the total trade volume between China and the European Union (EU). Noting that China always views its ties with Germany from a long-term strategic point of view, Li said that his visit is aimed at further advancing the bilateral relations, which will face new opportunities in the new year. The two sides should deepen cooperation in traditional areas, expand the scale of mutual investment and create sound environment for fair competition for enterprises, Li added. With Germany as China's largest source of technology in Europe, he said that it is beneficial for both countries and the world to see a combination of the German technology and the enormous Chinese market. Li said relations between Beijing and Berlin are of global significance, and that better coordination between China and Germany on important international and regional issues will also bring development and prosperity to the world. […]Li responded that there is great potential for Sino-German cooperation in areas such as clean energy, adding that China wants to learn from Germany's advanced technology and management expertise and join hands with Germany to develop the new energy markets. China wants to use the opportunity of the Hanover Fair to strengthen high-tech cooperation with Germany, he added. ^ top ^

Chinese vice premier arrives in Britain for visit (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-10
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday for a four-day official visit to Britain. Upon his arrival, Li said in a statement delivered at the airport that recent years have seen steady progress in China-Britain relations and that increasingly strong political ties and fruitful cooperation across the board have brought real benefits to the peoples in both countries. […] Li stressed that he hopes to explore with the British side ways to cooperate more closely and turn the two countries into partners of mutual respect and equality in the political arena, partners of mutual benefits and shared growth on the economic front and partners of close coordination and equal cooperation on international affairs. Edinburgh is Li's first stop in Britain. He will later travel to London and meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague. Britain is the last leg of Li's three-nation Europe tour, which has already taken him to Spain and Germany. Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming told Xinhua that as the first visit by a Chinese leader to Britain since the current British government took office and the first high-level exchange between the two countries in 2011, Li's ongoing trip has great significance for the development of the China-British relations. Trade between Britain and China is booming. Bilateral trade in goods reached 40.2 billion U.S. dollars between January and October last year, marking a year-on-year increase of 30 percent. The two sides have also made great progress in trade in services. […]. ^ top ^

Friction over Taiwan arms sales remains (SCMP)
2011-01-11
Chinese and American defence chiefs took a step towards building stronger military contacts yesterday by agreeing to explore holding more formal and regular dialogue on strategic issues. However, friction over what Beijing sees as its "core national interests" was not addressed. Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and visiting US Defence Secretary Dr Robert Gates struck a positive tone after two hours of talks in Beijing, saying they both wanted to build stronger military contacts and that such exchanges were needed to avoid missteps between the two countries. The agreement, along with Gates' visit, marks the symbolic end to a rocky year in which military-to-military contact was almost suspended. It comes just a week ahead of a state visit to the United States by President Hu Jintao, an event being billed as one of this year's most important diplomatic events. Gates called for stronger ties with China's military, warning that political frictions raised the risk of dangerous missteps. […] But Liang refused to guarantee that Beijing would refrain from suspending military ties in the future, especially if there were future arms sales to Taiwan. Such arms sales "severely damage China's core interests", Liang said. The US, he said, needed to pay more attention to what China wanted. US arms sales to Taiwan, which he described as an inalienable part of China, "have jeopardised China's core interests", Liang said when responding to a question about the consequences of any future US weapon sales to Taiwan. […] Liang said military relations were faced with new opportunities for development, along with difficulties and challenges. Joint efforts were needed to resolve disagreements while ensuring the healthy and stable development of military ties, Liang said. In response, Gates said there were many areas of mutual interest where both nations could work together, adding that disagreements were best dealt with through dialogue and transparency. […] Gates will also meet Hu and Vice-President Xi Jinping, the commission's chairman and vice-chairman, while in Beijing. He will also visit the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army's Second Artillery Corps, China's strategic missile force. ^ top ^

China, US closer to security dialogue (SCMP)
2011-01-12
China and the United States agreed to explore a formal platform for dialogue on strategic issues between the two militaries despite their deep disagreement over the sensitive Taiwan issue. President Hu Jintao told visiting US Defence Secretary Dr Robert Gates that he would "seriously consider" an initiative by Gates to start a formal military dialogue between the two powerful armed forces. Welcoming Gates in the Great Hall of the People, Hu said his visit signaled "new progress" in defence relations, adding that the Pentagon chief's meetings had allowed the two sides to exchange ideas "in a very candid manner". Stressing the principles of respect, mutual trust, equality and reciprocity, Hu urged the defence departments of the two countries to expand dialogue, foster and increase strategic trust, respect and address each other's major concerns and make joint efforts for healthy and stable military ties, Xinhua reported. Later, in a round-table talk with Chinese journalists, Gates also mentioned Hu's provisional offer to consider starting the dialogue in coming months. For years, the Pentagon hoped to nudge the Chinese towards an approach similar to the cold war-era exchanges between the Americans and the Soviets. Gates' appeals for a permanent security dialogue over the past four years have failed to persuade Chinese generals, but Hu's remark appears to suggest a possible endorsement of the US proposal for a "strategic dialogue" focusing on nuclear, missile defence, space and cyber-weaponry. Gates flew to Beijing on Sunday to mend military ties strained since early last year due to the Obama administration's plans to sell more than US$6 billion in arms to Taiwan. […] Gates' visit came a week ahead of Hu's summit with US President Barack Obama in Washington starting next Wednesday. "We believe that President Hu Jintao's visit next week will be a major step forward in the US-China relationship," Gates said earlier at talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. After the talk with Hu, Gates told reporters North Korea was becoming a direct threat to the United States and could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile within five years. Obama is expected to press his Chinese counterpart next week to exert more pressure on North Korea, which alarmed the region by shelling a South Korean island and revealing advances in its nuclear programme. Also, in a series of meetings between Gates and Chinese leaders yesterday, both sides stuck to their policies over the controversial US arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as Chinese territory. Chinese leaders voiced misgivings about the US sale, which was the reason Beijing suspended military contact with Washington last year and postponed Gates' visit. But in the round-table talk, Gates said the sales maintained Washington's commitment to Taiwan and helped stabilise the region. After their talks on Monday, Defence Minister Liang Guanglie refused to guarantee that Beijing would refrain from suspending military ties in the future, especially if there were more arms sales to Taiwan, saying they would "severely damage China's core interests". In his meeting with Gates, Vice-President Xi Jinping also took pains to highlight the Taiwan issues, Xinhua reported. ^ top ^

Europe's arms embargo on China discriminatory (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-13
If a stock's value had fallen for 22 years in a row, would you still keep its shares? The arms embargo against China seems to be such a stock in Europe's hands. The embargo was initiated in 1989 when calls for sanctions against China swept over the Western sphere of the globe. Although the world has changed a lot since that fretful time - the Soviet Union has been consigned to history, and China has become a major trade power - the European Union has been standing with the US on this arms ban. The embargo did not really prevent China from developing its technological and military capability. The unveiling of the world's fastest supercomputer, the success of a manned space program and the test flight of a stealth fighter jet have made the embargo a laughing stock. The embargo was never able to stop China from modernizing its weaponry. China has not been counting on Europe or the US to buy weapons. The embargo has in effect forced China to develop its own advanced defense system, having the opposite effect to its intent. China's R&D may be weaker than that of the West, but if constrained, China has proven it is capable of creating a product equal to Western counterparts, such as the J-20 stealth jet. What China wants to gain from the EU is justice. European countries have been emphasizing their friendship with China for a long time. But the embargo spells another story. China has never banned any exports to Europe. Even the precious rare earth is still available for Europe and the US. China and the EU are facing the looming question about whether and when to lift the embargo. It is a test for the EU as to whether it can make its own decision on China policies, not merely follow the US' lead. Breaking the ban will be a huge demonstration of Europe's sincere friendship with China. The US will certainly be unhappy. But Europe must choose whether its diplomacy will be dependent or independent. Signs are showing that many European countries are increasingly feeling the need to lift the embargo, though with some opposition. China should persist in pushing to lift embargo, whether it succeeds or not. There is no strategic conflict between China and Europe, though minor frictions are as commonplace as ever. The embargo is no longer the thorny issue it once was and it has become easier to resolve this issue than more ideological ones. Whether the embargo stands or falls, China will still be unable to buy cutting-edge weapons from the West. After all, it is not a crime to refuse a sale. But, as China's defense development continues to gather momentum, the embargo will seem increasingly pathetic. ^ top ^

China offers helping hand to crisis-hit Europe: Norwegian scholar (Xinhua)
2011-01-14
Jan Egeland, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, on Thursday spoke highly of China's timely assistance to a Europe struggling in deep financial crisis. In an article published on the Thursday issue of the Norwegian- language newspaper Aftenposten, Egeland said that 150 years after Britain and other Western countries forced China to accept the opium trade in Chinese cities, crisis-hit European countries are now hoping to have investment and assistance from China. Three years ago nobody would have thought that China would emerge as a contributor to the euro's survival and to save the European countries from financial bankruptcy, he said in the article. […] Large parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa as well as the Middle East are marked by optimism, growth and investment. But in the forefront is China, which is making investments in Europe and America, the article said. It is equally sobering to click on costofwar.com to see how quickly the U.S. government spends billions in Afghanistan and Iraq as 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars have been spent on the two wars there, Egeland said. Beijing, already a major investor in Greece and in talks with Ireland, has bought nearly 50 billion of Spain's government debt, said the article. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has just concluded a visit to Spain, Germany and Britain with over 100 prominent Chinese businessmen. During this visit, he said that China will contribute to help Europe get out of the crisis, the article added. […]. ^ top ^

China, Cameroon vow to further develop bilateral ties (Xinhua)
2011-01-14
Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has met here with Cameroon's Prime Minister Philemon Yang with both vowing to further develop bilateral ties. During their meeting on Wednesday, Hui said since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Cameroon 40 years ago, the peoples of the two countries have stood together through thick and thin and enjoyed the steady development of bilateral ties featured with political mutual trust, frequent exchange of high-level visits and increasing volumes in bilateral trade. […] Hui also made five-point proposals on developing the China- Cameroon ties which include further consolidating the political foundation of bilateral ties and continuing to understand and support each other on the important issues of core interests and common concern, further expanding economic and trade cooperation with China continuing to encourage its enterprises to cooperate with Cameroon in the sectors, among others, of infrastructure construction and air transportation, boosting agricultural cooperation and explore the ways and means of strengthening and deepening agricultural cooperation between the two countries, enriching the people to people and cultural exchanges of the two countries and considering to sign the new implementation plan of the cultural accords between the two governments at an appropriate time and strengthening the cooperation and coordination between the two sides in international affairs and working together to maintain the interests of the developing countries.[…] After their meeting, Hui and Philemon attended the signing ceremony of four accords including the economic and technology cooperation accord between the two governments. ^ top ^

China pledges to help Angola in diversifying exports in bilateral trade
2011-01-14
Visiting Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said here on Thursday that China would help Angola in diversifying its exports to China as part of the efforts to boost trade relations between the two countries. Zhong made the pledge during his meeting with Angolan Minister of Trade Maria Idalina Valente to explore ways of further expanding trade and economic ties between the two countries. Zhong said China has attached importance to developing ties with Angola, the largest trading partner of China in Africa, and the 2010 visit to Angola by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping brought Sino-Angolan ties to new highs. The Chinese official said crude oil was almost the sole product of Angola which ended up in Chinese markets despite the fact that trade volume between the two countries amounted to some 25 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, and the Chinese government has decided to reduce or waive tariffs on Angolan exports to China from January 1, 2011 to encourage Angolan businessmen to export more products to China, including agricultural produces, fish and other marine products and diamonds. […] Zhong arrived in Luanda earlier in the day for a two-day work visit to the African country. ^ top ^

Ad campaign to pave way for Hu's US visit (SCMP)
2011-01-14
The central government plans to screen short television advertisements in the US next week featuring Chinese celebrities to coincide with President Hu Jintao's visit to the country, a senior official says. Wang Zhongwei, deputy director of the State Council Information Office, told The Beijing News there would be two versions of the advertisement, one 30 seconds long and another lasting a minute. Wang said the advertisements had been completed and it was planned to air them on the giant screen in New York's Times Square as well as on television networks. […] The advertisements feature celebrities from all walks of life including basketball star Yao Ming and astronaut Yang Liwei as well as ordinary mainlanders. Analysts say China has begun to realise in recent years that a positive public relations campaign can play a key role in boosting its soft power. […] Wang said the state-sponsored image campaign would also include a 12-minute film on China's accomplishments in politics, economics, society, culture, science and research, education, the environment and ethnic minority relations that is still being made. Wang said the film also would be aired in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The advertisement and film would also be aired on new media platforms including the internet. ^ top ^

Rumours of test flight discord leave dark cloud (SCMP)
2011-01-14
The meeting between visiting US Secretary of Defence Dr Robert Gates and President Hu Jintao was meant to send a clear message that Beijing and Washington wanted to mend their fragile military ties ahead of Hu's state visit to Washington next week. But the message became lost in intense speculation over whether Hu had been informed of the first test flight of China's J-20 stealth fighter just hours before the meeting and whether the mainland's civilian leadership is in firm control of the country's military. While details of what happened in the opulent room of the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday remained unclear, US defence officials told reporters their distinct impressions that they found that China's top civilian leaders were apparently not aware of the test. […] So far, Chinese officials have remained silent, allowing the US officials' version to dominate world news and generating intense speculation in the overseas media and among China experts over what this episode really means. Many seasoned analysts both on the mainland and overseas are genuinely puzzled by the episode, with some finding it hard to believe that Hu, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, was not informed of the flight even though bloggers started to discuss the imminence of the flight a couple of weeks ago and began to post pictures online minutes after the flight on Tuesday. […] Many mainland analysts have declined to comment publicly on the development, saying they had no idea what really happened in the meeting. The mainland media has not mentioned the episode. […] However, Zhu and Jin acknowledged the episode would be an embarrassment for China's top leader, as the event drew attention to and prompted speculation over the limit of Hu's command of the military. "At the very least, Chinese diplomats who are preparing for Hu's state visit to the US would use this as a strong imperative to insulate Hu from any similar embarrassment," Jin said, apparently referring to the fact that China undertook the test flight of the stealth fighter during Gates' visit in Beijing. The last thing Beijing would want is any reciprocal move by the Americans that could taint Hu's image at home or around the world. ^ top ^

 

Domestic Policy

Chinese president vows more forceful fight against corruption, saying situation still "grave" (Xinhua)
2011-01-11
Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed Monday that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government will wage the fight against corruption with greater determination and more forceful measures as the situation remains "grave". Addressing a plenary session of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Party's anti-graft body, Hu said all work should be done with the fundamental interests of the majority of the people as the core concern. Hu, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said problems that seriously violated the public interest and sparked the most public complaints should be addressed to ensure social justice. […] Hu admitted that prominent problems remained in the fight against corruption and efforts to build a clean government, and warned of a "grave situation and arduous tasks." He called for enhanced supervision and monitoring of the implementation of major central government and Party policies and measures and the promotion of a corruption-free work style among officials. He called for reinforced efforts to build a system to prevent and punish corruption. […] Hu called for the building of a scientific, democratic and lawful decision-making system that would take the people's benefits and ideas fully into account. Hu called for unsparing efforts to promote an efficient and legal work style and solve obvious problems concerning people's lives in order to ensure their economic, political, cultural and social rights. […] Hu called on officials from discipline inspection departments at all levels to set an example and to initiate the people-oriented spirit in their work and fulfil their responsibilities to a higher standard. He called for improvements in the anti-corruption system in accordance with an amended anti-corruption regulation released last month. One of the latest CPC moves to battle corruption, the amended regulation adds articles detailing punishments for corrupt officials and sets out penalties for corrupt Party officials who have left their posts or retired. Along with 118 CCDI members, senior Chinese leaders, including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping and Zhou Yongkang, attended the meeting, which was presided over by He Guoqiang, head of the CPC's anti-graft agency. ^ top ^

China's military development not aimed at any country: defense official (Xinhua)
2011-01-12
A Chinese military official said Tuesday that China's military hardware development is not aimed at any other country. Guan Youfei, deputy director of Foreign Affairs Office of the Defense Ministry, made the remarks while responding to a question on the reported test flight of J-20 stealth fighter jet."The development of China's military hardware is not aimed at any other country or any specific target and the timing was a matter of routine working arrangements," said Guan. Weaponry was developed to safeguard China's national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and to adapt to the world's military changes, as well as the constant development of new weapons, he said. Guan denied the test flight was timed deliberately to coincide with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' China visit. China would always take the path of peaceful development, and adhere to the national defense policy, which was defensive in nature, he said. China would not seek hegemony, military expansion, an arms race, nor pose a threat to any country, Guan said. ^ top ^

Police in Hunan urged to respect human rights (China Daily)
2011-01-12
Police in Central China's Hunan province is banned from participating in land expropriation and housing demolitions, to prevent possible power abuse, Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported Tuesday. Li Jiang, police chief of Hunan province, urged maintaining the momentum to crack down on illegal activities and settling conflicts as the province busted 320 organized crime groups in 2010, an increase of 7 percent from 2009. Li also called on the police to respect human rights, and ensure that pursuing efficiency in the process will not jeopardize the goal of justice. Land expropriation and forced demolitions have become big causes of social unrest in China, and in some cases police were blamed for hurting residents in the interest of developers. ^ top ^

Tourists from the mainland make record number of visits overseas (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-13
A record 56 million mainland tourists traveled overseas last year, Shao Qiwei, head of the China National Tourism Administration, said on Wednesday. That number is 2 million more than an earlier estimate of 54 million, and is also an increase of 8.3 million over 2009. In contrast, 55.7 million overseas tourists visited China and stayed for at least one night last year, up 9.5 percent year-on-year. In total, 134 million overseas visitors came to China, up 6 percent year-on-year, spending $45 billion in the country. Meanwhile domestic tourists made 2.1 billion trips last year, up 11 percent from the previous year, bringing revenue of 1.25 trillion yuan ($189 billion), he said. "China's tourism has entered a new round of golden development, thanks to fast economic development, the growth of people's incomes and further opening-up," he said. Industry analysts said it is the first time that the number of mainland tourists going overseas has exceeded that of inbound overnight tourists. […] Starting this year, the State Council Information Office and the tourism administration will join hands to promote China's tourist resources and boost the national image abroad under a cooperative framework. Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, told a news conference on Wednesday that the cooperation aims to "let overseas people know about China's hospitality and continuous efforts to improve tourism service so that they can visit China and enjoy it here at ease." […] The commercial will also be shown in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East in the future, he added. ^ top ^

Overseas program benefits officials (China Daily)
2011-01-14
For Chinese government officials, tedious meetings filled with long-winded speeches are an occupational hazard. […] However, for the last five years, he has been overhauling his department to make meetings faster and more efficient - thanks to an eight-month internship in the United States. "I went to a meeting that would have lasted half a day in China, but (in the US) it lasted just half an hour," he said. "We'd have had a speaker make a long opening speech, then he'd talk about every department and then experts would make long speeches. There was none of that. "Now when I hold a big meeting I make sure it lasts a maximum of two hours," he added. Zhao was among five officials from Southwest China chosen to shadow counterparts in Georgia and Minnesota in 2005 and 2006 as part of an innovative program. Today, overseas placements are one of the most popular and important forms of on-the-job training for China's civil servants. The rapid development of China's economy has increased demand for more administrators with cross-cultural knowledge and a global vision, and pushed the internationalization of talents to the top of the agenda. Beijing's Dongcheng district government announced in November it will place its most promising workers with a host of international organizations, companies and governments in developed countries. The authority, which has previously sent staff members to China's Hong Kong special administrative region and South Korea, aims to have 20 percent of its staff trained overseas by 2030 using a special talent development fund. Annual investment in 2011 will be at least 50 million yuan ($7.5 million), with the sum likely to increase every year. "The plan reflects a strategic vision," said Wu Degui, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, in an interview with People's Daily online. ^ top ^

Senior CPC leader stresses publicity of Party's agenda for next five years (Xinhua)
2011-01-14
A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader on Thursday called for educating the public about the Party's agenda for China's development in the next five years. Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting in Beijing where officials made arrangements for cultural and ideological work in 2011. In a plenary session last October, the CPC Central Committee set the agenda for China's 12th five-year development program (2011-2015), with key objectives in economic restructuring and raising living standards throughout the country. Efforts must be made to educate the public on the agenda set at the plenary session in order to encourage the public to make a greater contribution to the development program, he said. ^ top ^

Beijing professor battles one-child familiy planning policy (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-14
A Beijing law professor, who was fined for contravening the one-child policy by having a second child, is suing local family planning authorities in an attempt to promote the need to have the policy revised, if not scrapped altogether. Yang Zhizhu, 44, an assistant professor at China Youth University for Political Sciences, was suspended from his teaching position in April 2010 after it was discovered his wife had given birth to a second child in December 2009. In September, the Haidian District population and family planning commission fined him 240,642 yuan ($36,300) for "illegally having a second child." Consequently, his second child is unable to obtain a hukou (household registration). […] Deciding to fight against the ruling, Yang countered by suing the commission on December 1, with the trial opening Tuesday at a local court in Haidian. […] However, Yang himself had ruled out the possibility the family-planning policy could be cancelled as "it goes against China's conditions." A possible solution for the current contradiction is to loosen the rein on how many babies a family can have, he said. The national family planning policy varies in places. Residents in rural and remote areas may have a second child if the first child is a daughter. In Beijing, a second child is acceptable if both parents are single children themselves or if the first child is born disabled. Yang has two siblings and his wife was also born into a big family with a brother and two sisters, meaning that he was not entitled to have more than one child. One-child policy violators face fines that are based on net income or disposable income per capita. ^ top ^

 

Beijing

Beijing to build second airport in next 5 years (SCMP)
2011-01-11
Beijing will build a second international airport within five years, a senior economic planning official in the capital said yesterday. It will alleviate pressure on Beijing Capital International Airport (SEHK: 0694) (BCIA), which is already the world's second busiest. The plan was approved by the central government and will be listed as a key project in the nation's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), said Dr Liu Yinchun, deputy director of Beijing municipal development and reform commission. It was the first confirmation of the much-rumoured plans for a new airport by a top municipal official. It will be part of an ambitious infrastructure expansion project - to be unveiled at the annual municipal People's Congress session starting on Friday - designed to boost Beijing's status as an international hub. The new airport was expected to be operational in 2015 and would be built in the capital's southern Daxing district, Liu said. He added that it would relieve pressure on BCIA, which has three terminals. […] Beijing's 12th Five-Year Plan, the preparation of which Liu has been supervising for the past few years, also calls for "connecting roads and matching services" for the new airport, some of which will be launched very soon. The municipal government is also ready to host four more high-speed rail connections in addition to the existing 350km/h Beijing-Tianjin line. A new Beijing-Shanghai rail service, reportedly able to run at a speed of more than 500km/h, will open later this year and soon be joined by high speed lines connecting to Shenyang, Shijiazhuang and Zhangjiakou Liu said. He added that all the inter-city high-speed rail lines and expressways would boost regional business integration, with Beijing pleased to see its remaining manufacturing activities relocate to the less expensive nearby cities, along with their low-skilled labour. […] Beijing's overall goal was to improve the quality of its services, Liu said, with less importance assigned to economic output and more given to human interests, innovation and environmental protection. That means greater efforts are also planned to alleviate the capital's notorious inner-city traffic congestion. Despite recent internet criticism of many cities' big-ticket, if not wasteful, subway and urban rail systems, Liu said the municipal government was convinced that rail transport was still the best option for Beijing. And the municipal government remains committed to subsidising the operation and development of Beijing's subways, already one of the longest systems in the world. Liu said Beijing had increased its planned subway length for 2015 to 600 kilometres, up from 561 kilometres, with more and easier connections between existing lines. The capital's 12th Five-Year Plan will be submitted for approval by the rubber-stamp municipal parliament at its three-day annual session. During its drafting period, officials said they collected about 17,000 suggestions from the public. ^ top ^

Official: New traffic rules, subway lines ease congestion "obviously" in Beijing (Xinhua)
2011-01-13
Traffic congestion has eased "obviously" in Beijing since authorities launched a string of new, stricter traffic rules and opened five new subway lines last month, a local transport official said Wednesday. "On average, the duration of traffic jams has been reduced by more than two hours per day, from 3 hours and 55 minutes before the new year to the current 1 hour 45 minutes since Jan. 1," said Li Xiaosong, deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Committee of Communications. Li's committee has unveiled an index system of Beijing's traffic congestion, the first for the city. […] Li attributed the improvement to the new traffic rules and subway lines. Massive traffic jams have long been a headache for Beijing, a city of 20 million people and 4.8 million vehicles. Last year, an average 2,000 new cars hit the city's streets every day. […] Moreover, Beijing municipal government agencies and public institutions were prohibited from increasing the size of their vehicle fleets over the next five years. Other measures include higher parking fees in the city's central areas, and stricter traffic rules for cars registered outside Beijing. An odd-even license plate number system was introduced to allow cars to be driven every other day in peak hours in some congested areas. Beijing opened five new suburban subway lines on Dec. 30 with a combined length of 108 km, bringing the city's total number of subway lines to 14 and the total length to 336 km. Beijing was building more subway lines, Li said. The number of lines in the city would reach 19 by 2015. Then, their combined length would total 561 km. By 2020, the total subway length would increase to 1,000 km, she said. […]. ^ top ^

 

Tibet

Tibet gov't chief says fight against Dalai Lama lasting and vehement (Xinhua)
2011-01-11
Tibet's top government official on Monday said the fight against the Dalai Lama clique is meant to be lasting, intense, complicated, and sometimes fought vehemently. "We are still facing an arduous task to fight secessionists and maintain stability in the region," Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, said in his first government report submitted to the local legislature for review on Monday. […] On another subject, Choling said the government's goal in achieving rapid development and long-term stability in Tibet also faces challenges from lagging infrastructure construction, development gap between urban and rural areas, and lack of a system to ensure long-term growth of residents' incomes. Further, Choling noted that the region's economy grew 12.2 percent in 2010. Additionally, incomes for both urban residents and nomads continued to grow and efforts to tame environmental hazards were strengthened while new roads and airports were built. The central government has been pouring vast funding, personnel, and resources to assist Tibet's development over the past decades. Much of these efforts can be seen in the complete makeover of Lhasa and other cities and towns in the region, along with their improved transport links - including the landmark Qinghai-Tibet Railway which began connecting the region by rail with the rest of the country in 2006. ^ top ^

 

Hongkong

Vice president urges HK business group to contribute to regional development (Xinhua)
2011-01-13
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Wednesday urged the Hong Kong-based Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) to increase support for the local government and further contribute to regional economic development. "Hong Kong's current situation is good in general, but it also faces many challenges. As an important patriotic group, the CGCC should shoulder its responsibilities to ensure and boost the region's prosperity and stability," Xi said in Beijing while meeting a visiting CGCC delegation.Xi noted that the group had been making great contributions to Hong Kong and the mainland by actively participating in the region's social affairs and economic development. Xi said Hong Kong had overcome problems created by the global financial crisis, and was undergoing a strong economic revival. Xi also said that the central government had been taking effective measures to support the region's economic development and improve local people's livelihoods. The CGCC, founded in 1900, is one of the oldest and largest non-profit organizations of local Chinese firms and businessmen in Hong Kong. It has more than 6,000 members. The delegation was led by CGCC chairman Jonathan Choi Koon-shum. ^ top ^

 

Economy

Chongqing could be among first Chinese cities to impose a housing property tax (Xinhua)
2011-01-10
Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality could be one of the first Chinese cities to impose a housing property tax, if an ongoing local parliamentary session approves a government work report delivered by mayor Huang Qifan. Members of the municipal people's congress on Sunday were reviewing the government report that looks to impose a tax on high-end houses. However, the report does not clearly state what kind of high-end houses would be taxed. Sources with the municipal government say it is rushing to draft a detailed regulation which is likely to be promulgated in the first quarter, if it is endorsed by the local legislature next week. No further details on the issue were available. Local governments in many Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai are deliberating imposing a housing property tax to reign in wildly inflated property prices. ^ top ^

Trade surplus dips, taking heat off yuan (Global Times)
2011-01-11
The nation's trade surplus narrowed in 2010 for the second straight year, giving China grounds to rebuff US pressure for faster currency appreciation ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next week. The government will point to the latest numbers as evidence that it is making steady progress in rebalancing its economy toward domestic consumption, cutting reliance on exports and giving the world a lift through surging demand for imports. US lawmakers may find little comfort in the data showing that apart from some heavy machinery and agricultural commodities, the US provides few of the goods fueling China's import growth. The mismatch meant the politically sensitive trade gap between the world's two biggest economies widened by 26 percent in 2010 to $181 billion, providing fodder for critics of Beijing's tightly-controlled currency regime. […] China's December exports rose 17.9 percent from a year earlier and imports increased by 25.6 percent, the customs agency said Monday. That left the country with a trade surplus in December of $13.1 billion, well below analysts' expectations of $20 billion and the lowest in eight months. A smaller trade surplus means that less money is flowing into China, making it less urgent for the central bank to mop up the excess cash in the economy that has pushed prices higher. China's full-year trade surplus was 38 percent lower than its pre-crisis peak of nearly $300 billion in 2008. "This could reduce the pressure for yuan appreciation and also remove some pressure for the central bank to imminently launch aggressive tightening," said Wang Hu, an economist with Guotai Junan Securities. Along with quickening the pace of yuan gains, the government raised interest rates twice and banks' required reserves six times last year to rein in inflation that reached a 28-month high in November of 5.1 percent. The latest trade data was not a major factor for international markets, which were more focused on euro-area debt concerns. ^ top ^

Yuan trading New York signals more international currency (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-13
The Bank of China has offered yuan trading to its US customers, a sign that China this year may increasingly promote the use of its currency in major financial centers. The change at BOC means that customers can trade the Chinese currency in the United States for the first time. The New York branch of China's fourth-largest bank said it now lets companies and individuals buy and sell the yuan via accounts with its US branches, although US businesses and individuals can also trade the currency through Western banks. […] The move is seen as another small step to redenominate trade in yuan after persuading Chinese mainland importers and exporters to reduce settling trade in the US dollar and striking trade settlement agreements with Russia, Brazil and other countries and regions. Promoting the use of the yuan in international trade has gone from strength to strength in the past year thanks to a slew of measures taken by authorities. Cross-border trade settlement in Hong Kong has grown rapidly from a monthly average 4 billion yuan (US$606 million) in the first half of 2010 to 68 billion yuan in October. At the same time, Hong Kong's yuan deposit base has expanded sharply since trade liberalization rules established in July, leading to the emergence of a rapidly growing offshore yuan and yuan-linked instrument market. The step by BOC, while significant, is a baby one, mainly because the Chinese government still tightly controls the amount of yuan circulating outside the country and maintains trade settlement quotas. In 2010, China ran a US$181 billion bilateral surplus with the US, and a total surplus of US$183 billion. […] The amount of US dollars that can be converted into yuan per individual account is a tiny 20,000 yuan per day - a cap similar to the one existing in Hong Kong - and means that the growth in the yuan deposit base would take time. ^ top ^

China buys Portuguese debt (Global Times)
2011-01-14
China bought 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) worth of Portuguese debt in a private placement last week at above the market rate of interest, the Jornal de Negócios reported Thursday. "The Portuguese state is going to pay a rate of 4.74 percent on an 18-month issue of 1 billion euros, which is above the market rate," the newspaper said. ^ top ^

China unveils new moves to globalize yuan (Global Times)
China announced on Thursday that the nation's qualified businesses and banks could settle their overseas direct investment in yuan, a move that could expand the Chinese currency's global reach and ease excessive liquidity domestically. The People's Bank of China (PBOC), or the central bank, said in a notice on its website that banks and businesses which were allowed to settle cross-border trade in yuan would also be permitted to conduct direct investments overseas using yuan, or Renminbi. Further, domestic banks could offer those businesses loans for their overseas investment, and investment profits could be sent back to China in yuan. Related procedures would be more expedient, according to the new rules that took effect on Jan. 6. To carry out the pilot project in an active and steady way could further push for Renminbi's use for cross-border trade and investment, and better support Chinese enterprises working overseas, read the notice. […] The central bank announced on Tuesday that the nation's foreign exchange reserves topped 2.85 trillion US dollars as of the end of 2010, following robust export growth. However, concerns are heightened that the massive inflow of foreign currency would push up domestic inflation, which reached a 28-month high in November, as the central bank had to issue the same amount of Renminbi to offset the inflows, which was not good to check excessive liquidity. Moreover, the hefty stockpile also added pressure for a stronger yuan as the western economies complained a weak yuan gave rise to their trade deficits with China. […] Last July, the government allowed the yuan's trading in Hong Kong adjacent to south China's Guangdong Province, in a bid to foster the yuan's nascent offshore market. Yu Yi, head of the Bank of East Asia's capital center, said the new move would enhance the yuan's overseas presence in the long term as the yuan would be more often used in government dealings and other trade and investment settlements. Chinese regulators last month increased the number of exporters that can use the yuan to settle cross-border trade, from a few hundred to nearly 70,000. […]. ^ top ^

 

DPRK and South Korea

DPRK reiterates call for dialogue with S.Korea (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-10
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sunday urged again South Korea to "positively" respond to its proposal for resuming the inter-Korean dialogue, saying the offer was a "decisive measure to overcome the current difficulty and open the new phase of reunification" of Korea. Kim Yong Jin, president of the Education Committee of the DPRK, said the inter-Korean relations had been deteriorated to a degree as a result of artillery firing. To guarantee peace on the Korean Peninsula, the two sides must make greater efforts to change "distrust and confrontation" to "trust and reconciliation" and dialogue was the only way to achieve that goal. Kim Wan Su, director of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Front for Democratic Unification of Korea, said the Korean Peninsula remained on the brink of war. So dialogue between the two sides was an urgent issue that admits no delay. He added that both sides must reopen the dialogue right now without preconditions, as dialogue was the best way to ease tensions, improve inter-Korean relations and create a path to reunification. The DPRK government, political parties and social organizations on Wednesday issued a joint statement to propose dialogue with South Korea to discuss openly the way to clear up misunderstandings and distrust so as to maintain peace and achieve prosperity. In a statement released on Saturday, the DPRK Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea proposed that both sides resume at an early date Red Cross talks, talks for the resumption of tour of Mt. Kumgang and the talks for Kaesong Industrial Zone. ^ top ^

S Korea refuses DPRK's proposals on inter-Korean dialogue (People's Daily Online)
2011-01-11
South Korea on Monday refused dialogue proposals formally put forward by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in official messages, urging Pyongyang to adopt "responsible attitude" first to its recent provocations. The remarks came after Seoul received official messages from the DPRK earlier in the day, in which Pyongyang urged government- level talks and Red Cross dialogue as soon as possible. In the letters sending via Panmunjom channels on Monday, Pyongyang proposed holding working-level government contact in its border city of Kaesong on Jan. 27 to discuss the venue and date for future higher level government talks, and holding Red Cross dialogue on Feb. 1 in South Korean border city of Munsan, Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a press release. Pyongyang also said that it will reopen Red Cross liaison office at the truce village of Panmunjom and the economic negotiation office in Kaesong as of Wednesday. In response, Seoul's Unification Ministry said Pyongyang put forward the dialogue proposals "just for the purpose of getting economic assistance and aid," as it made no reference in the messages to killing of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumgang area, sinking of the warship Cheonan and the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island. Calling Pyangyong's proposals "false peace offensives" and " strategy aiming to divide South Korea", the ministry reiterated its government's position, noting that the DPRK must adopt " responsible attitude" first to admit its sinking of the Cheonan frigate and attack on the Yeonpyeong Island, as well as show its sincerity on denuclearization. To this end, Seoul proposes holding a government-level meeting focusing on the DPRK's provocative moves, the ministry said. Seoul will not consider the proposals unless Pyongyang meets these prerequisites, it added. The DPRK made a series of conciliatory gestures recently, repeating call for unconditional and early inter-Korean talks to help defuse cross-border tension, heightened by a series of South Korean military drills following the mysterious sinking of a South Korean warship in March and the exchange of artillery shelling near the disputed maritime border in November. But Seoul insists Pyongyang should display sincere attitude first on inter-Korean talks and inter-Korean relations. ^ top ^

N.Korea criticizes South's rejection (Global Times)
2011-01-12
North Korea insisted Tuesday that it is being sincere in its efforts to work on improving relations with the South, accusing Seoul of keeping ties sour by refusing Pyongyang's dialogue proposals a day earlier. "Those who question our sincerity need to read our statement (offering dialogue) thoroughly. It offered extensive talks and negotiations with no conditions attached," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. Minju Josun, Pyongyang's government newspaper, also criticized South Korea's rejection of talks as dampening hopes for better relations. South Korea and the US remained skeptical of the peace overtures, saying they must be backed by action. Seoul said it would not be willing to hold government-level talks until Pyongyang admits responsibility for a series of provocations and confirms a commitment to nuclear disarmament. […] It would be very difficult for Kim Jong-il's government to take other practical actions, such as scrapping its nuclear program, other than calling for talks, Li said. "While the rest of the world focuses on a correct response from South Korea, it is still the responsibility of North Korea to resurrect the Six-Party Talks with concrete steps," he added. China repeated its support of any dialogue concerning easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula at a regular foreign ministry news briefing in Beijing Tuesday. Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara plans to visit Seoul this week for talks on regional security, according to South Korea's foreign ministry. Defense ministers from the two countries also agreed Monday to push for talks on forging their first military accord. ^ top ^

N.Korea must be 'serious' for talks: Gates (Global Times)
2011-01-14
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday called upon North Korea to show it was serious in its offer for talks and added that Washington and Tokyo would deepen their military cooperation. Gates said after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, that Pyongyang should stop its "belligerent behavior" and that "there must be concrete evidence on the part of the North that they are finally serious about these negotiations," AFP reported. Gates' comments came after a series of proposals from North Korea since the beginning of January, all aimed at rapprochement with the US and South Korea. […] During his earlier trip to Beijing, the Pentagon chief warned that Pyongyang was becoming a direct threat to the US and could develop intercontinental ballistic missiles within five years. Gates and Kitazawa have agreed that the two countries would maintain talks on exporting their joint SM-3 missile to a third country.The missile interception system is one of the largest military programs jointly developed by the US and Japan. Sales of such a system to third-party countries would require Japan to first revise its current tight restrictions on arms exports. The two sides also stuck a positive tone on the thorny issue of relocating an unpopular US military base in Okinawa. While the US defense chief said Washington hoped to see the plan move forward, he stressed that the interests and concerns of people in Okinawa would be taken into account. […] Liu told the Global Times that Gates also helped reduce pressure on the Japanese government as many Okinawal citizens hope to rid their shores of a US military base forever. ^ top ^

 

Mongolia

Mongolia Export Nuclear Fuel (News.mn)
2011-01-11
Prime Minister S.Batbold met with Vice President of United Arab Emirates and Prime Minister and Mayor of Dubai City Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Ali-Maktum, one of the most influential officials, who is viewed as an individual who swiftly developed Dubai City in short period of time. Premier S.Batbold briefly informed Mongolia's trade, business, investment and foreign policy and stated interests to develop relations and cooperation with Gulf countries including the Emirates. He also told Mongolia is in talks with Abu Dhabi Fund and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for investment to Mongolia. Batbold noted that discussions to export nuclear fuel to Emirates will be a significant issue. Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Ali-Maktum said Mongolia and United Arab Emirates have wide feasibility to cooperate and offered to determine cooperation tendencies in the near future. ^ top ^

National Security Council to Discuss Air Pollution (News.mn)
2011-01-12
President Ts.Elbegdorj yesterday consulted with political party leaders in the Parliament, Chiefs of the Standing Committees, MPs, managing officials of the Mayor's Office and Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy to reduce smoke and air pollution of Ulaanbaatar city. The President told in the beginning of meeting “Fume and air pollution is in catastrophic volume in Ulaanbaatar. Even though we are talking about the issue for years, no concrete result came. Needed measures are directly taken in catastrophic time without talks and plan of time consuming. Therefore, Parliament, Government, the Ministries, Agencies and citizens have to resolve the issue with public attention.” He has suggested some definite offerings. Officials exchanged opinions that requiring capital and technique to some methods that possible to reduce fume and air pollution. Ts.Elbegdorj has said officials to cooperate with professional organizations to implement measures in the base of discussed decisions, urgently to process related laws and protocols, to submit to National Security Council meeting. ^ top ^

Mongolia Traded with 132 Countries (Montsame)
2011-01-12
In 2010, Mongolia traded with 132 countries from all over the world. Total external trade turnover reached 6,177.1 million U.S.dollars, of which exports made up 2,899.2 million U.S. dollars, imports--3,277.9 million U.S. dollars. External trade balance showed a deficit of 378.7 million U.S. dollars in 2010, increased by 126.4 million or 50.1 percent compared to the previous year. Total external trade turnover increased 2,154.0 million U.S. dollars or 53.5 percent, of which exports was up by 1,013.8 million U.S. dollars or 53.8 percent, and imports--up by 1,140.2 million U.S. dollars or 53.3 percent respectively, compared to the previous year. Mineral products, natural or cultured stones, precious metal, jewellery, coins, textiles & textile articles live animals, animal origin products, raw & processed hides, skins, fur & articles thereof accounted for 98.0 percent of the total export value amount. ^ top ^

 

Gabrielle Tschopp
Embassy of Switzerland
 

The Press review is a random selection of political and social related news gathered from various media and news services located in the PRC, edited or translated by the Embassy of Switzerland in Beijing and distributed among Swiss Government Offices. The Embassy does not accept responsibility for accuracy of quotes or truthfulness of content. Additionally the contents of the selected news mustn't correspond to the opinion of the Embassy.
 
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